Shillong, Oct. 2: The Meghalaya government will institute a “special court” to try cases related to the ongoing agitation by pressure groups on the inner-line permit (ILP) issue as the series of agitation have been viewed as dereliction of judicial rulings.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma disclosed this during an interaction with mediapersons at his official residence this evening.
“We have received the sanction from Meghalaya High Court on our proposal to set up a special court which would try all those cases (in relation with the ongoing agitation organised by pressure groups). Everyone must be accountable to the law in any civilised society,” Sangma said.
He said the proposal, which was approved two days ago, was sent to the high court as the government wanted to ensure that the directives issued by the Supreme Court and Gauhati High Court on shutdowns were adhered to.
A few years ago, the apex court had declared shutdowns as illegal.
At the same time, Sangma said, as per the court rulings, sponsors of shutdowns will have to compensate for the losses incurred during such shutdowns.
Accordingly, the chief minister said the district administration across the state has been asked to assess the losses which have been recorded for the last one month, which would then be incorporated in a petition to be submitted before the special court.
He also indicated that instructions have been given to the state police to arrest the leaders of the agitating groups.
Meghalaya plunged into a series of shutdowns, night road blockades and picketing of offices from September 2 onwards following the breakdown of talks between the government and the pressure groups on the ILP issue.
Several cases of arson were reported from different places, especially from East Khasi Hills district, and more than 50 people have been arrested in connection with these cases.
On whether the government would call the agitating groups for talks to end the current standoff, Sangma said: “Whenever there is a disagreement (between groups and government), they (groups) will agree to create problems. But do you want to see Meghalaya in this kind of a situation in the next 50 years also? Provisions of law will be enforced to put an end to this.”
The chief minister also said he would be the first among the 60 legislators to say “yes” to the ILP if it was found to be tenable. “We have examined the recommendations made by the high-level committee on influx which had unanimously suggested the implementation of the ILP besides other mechanisms.
However, the recommendations stipulated that the legality aspect of including Garo hills within the ambit of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 should be looked into,” Sangma said.
He also said that one of the recommendations was that the ILP should be suitably amended to suit present- day requirements wherein the role of traditional bodies, civil society groups and NGOs should be incorporated.
The ILP regulates visits of Indians to states where the permit regime is prevalent under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
“As the entire Garo hills region was removed from the regulation’s ambit since 1897, and since modifications to the ILP were suggested, the state would have to move Parliament in order to bring in the amendments. Parliament is not under my control and we will have to wait whether it will agree or not,” Sangma said while referring to Manipur where the Centre had ruled out implementation of ILP even when the Manipur Assembly had passed a resolution in favour of the permit regime.
“Recommendations must be implementable. If the committee’s recommendations were good, I would have been the first from among the 60 legislators to say yes,” he added.
Sangma, while asserting that it was not his government which has been remaining adamant, expressed confidence that the proposed Meghalaya Regulation of Landlords and Tenants Verification bill would be an answer to the problem of influx and illegal immigration.